Pennsylvania Voter Registration Deadline Approaching

The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania’s upcoming primary election is a month away. Individuals must register with the state by April 19 to be allowed to vote in the election, which will be held on May 18. In order to vote in a primary election in Pennsylvania, voters must be registered with a political party, and can only vote in the primary for that party. All registered electors are allowed to vote on ballot questions and on special elections held simultaneously with the primaries. For information and forms to register to vote or to change your party affiliation, click here.

Public Invitation Includes Speakers Gerlach, Toomey and Kampf . . . but Where’s Buckwalter?

A friend gave me a public invitation she received in today’s mail.  Here was a part of the invitation:

Come and Hear:

Congressman
Jim Gerlach

Tredyffrin Supervisor and State Representative candidate
Warren Kampf

Plus a Surprise Speaker!

Sponsored by Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee http://www.ttgop.com

 I am puzzled and confused by this invitation.  On February 20th,  both the Democrats and the Republicans held their nominating conventions and I wrote about both of the conventions.   For the State House Representative 157, incumbent Paul Drucker was endorsed by the Democrat Party.  However, at the Chester County Republican Convention neither Warren Kampf nor Ken Buckwalter were endorsed by the party.  After three rounds of voting (Round #3, Kampf 29 – Buckwalter 27)  the decision was to recommend, not endorse either candidate.  To receive the party’s endorsement would have required one of the candidates to receive 60% of the votes.  To read about the Chester County Republican Committee vote which I posted, click here.

So then I look at this invitation and wonder to myself if the TTGOP is sponsoring this public event in a public place (the event will be at the Strafford Library, April 12, 7-9 PM) a couple of things jumped out at me.  First thing, I wondered was where was Ken Buckwalter’s name?  Warren Kampf is recommended (just like Ken) and this is sponsored by the local Republican party, so shouldn’t both of their names appear on the invitation? Shouldn’t Ken have the same opportunity as Warren to speak at this public forum?  Was this a simple oversight . . . a miss-step . . . or what?   The opportunity to participate in this forum should be open to both candidates.  If Warren had been endorsed by the party, this would be a different matter but he was recommended, just as was Ken.  I think that Ken should be included and given the same opportunity to participate; level the playing field.

Then the next question I have about the invitation is re Jim Gerlach.  Is this invitation intended to imply that Gerlach has endorsed Warren Kampf?  That’s the way it reads to me but I don’t recall seeing a press release to that effect. Has Gerlach endorsed Kampf?  Did Gerlach OK this invitation?  Does Gerlach know that Ken Buckwalter was not included?  For the sake of party unity, I would think that Gerlach would want to treat both candidates fairly until the primary.

Now my third comment on this invitation, I was curious who the ‘surprise speaker’ was?  I did some checking around — and was able to track down the surprise speaker — Pat Toomey.  Very interesting . . . I wonder if Gerlach was told about the surprise speaker?  Interesting trio of speakers – Gerlach, Toomey and Kampf.  Comments anyone?  Do you agree that Ken Buckwalter should be asked to join this group on April 12 and given an opportunity to speak?

A Couple of Political Points of Interest . . .

I found a couple of interesting political notes in the last couple of days . . .

On the Republican side:  Phoenixville Councilman Ken Buckwalter (R) who is running in the Pennsylvania State House 157 primary race, has received an endorsement from longtime friend Ed Shanaughy.  You may not know Ed personally but I bet that you know his restaurant – Our Deli in Paoli (with the large steer out front).  Ed served as president of Paoli Fire Company for 35 years, recently stepping down (John Beatty is now president) to become the fire company’s Chairman of the Board.  As a Director of Paoli Business and Professional Association, Ed serves with me on the Board as Director Emeritus.  

Both Ken and Ed are local small business owners and have known each other for 30 years; in fact Ken attributes some of his early success with Buckwalter Framing to Ed’s support.  Ken Buckwalter stated in his press release,

To have his [Ed Shanaughy] endorsement is gratifying.  I had stated at the candidate interviews in early February that I live in one major end of the district and have done business for many years in the other.  I am well-known throughout, and my public service is largely without controversy.”

On the Democrat side:  I found this next political tidbit an interesting sidebar on the local Pennsylvania Senate primary race,  Senator Arlen Specter (D) vs. Congressman Joe Sestak (D).  Yesterday in a press release, Specter claimed that Sestak does not pay all his campaign staffers a living wage, or even the minimum wage, unless they are a member of his family.  Specter’s report shows Sestak employees receiving what appears to be far less than the minimum wage.  The response from Sestak’s camp is that those are all part-time employees who split their time; people who work 10 percent of their time for the campaign. 

In a second press release today, Specter called for Sestak to clarify the reports, or turn himself into the authorities for violating minimum wage law requirements. Sestak’s email response to Specter’s latest pronouncement,

“It’s a shame with the enormous challenges facing our country that Senator Specter is spending his time working on this, rather than focusing on getting our economy in shape or reforming our healthcare system. This kind of petty diversion and focus on personal attacks is why so many people hate Washington-style politics.”

Township Lawsuit . . . Where Does it Stand?

I received the following from John Petersen this morning in regards to the township lawsuit.  There has been much discussion and debate concerning the lawsuit; I think it is important that the facts be presented in John’s own words.

Just so everyone is clear about the [law]suit – I did speak with Tom Hogan at length on Tuesday. I have decided, for the time being, to stand down on the suit so that the subcommittee can go forward.

However….

I have made it clear that the new subcommittee cannot suffer the same fate as the BAWG. I, along with many of the people here, will pay close attention to happens with that process. I note with interest, the stimulus funds that have been received on behalf of sidewalks. I do wonder what this new process means for those funds….

I want to leave you with Bruce Parkinson’s comments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8aILCXIcLQ

When he looked to his left, he was looking at me: re his comments about this matter being a “political football”. If there is a political football, it is because Kampf, Lamina, and especially Olson, have made it so. My issue is about following the rules. Parkinson on the the other hand, apparently believes that as a member of the club and the club itself, is subject to a different set of rules. And to that end, the government can break its own rules for the benefit of the club and its members. At least, I think that is what he was saying. When it comes to political footballs, I take Parkinson’s comments to be nothing short of a political threat.

in other words, they were instrumental in getting people like Olson back on the board…they could be instrumental in getting people removed. In other words, Parkinson was telling the BOS to “play ball.” There is simply no other way to take his comments.

For the record, Parkinson is a local committee for the GOP and is also a member of the county GOP executive committee. Further, he was chairman of the building committee in 2005 when the development was approved.

Parkinson was the one, along with the club president, to agree to the sidewalks. You didn’t hear him talk about that on Monday….did you????

I simply do not have any more time to waste on folks that are so intellectually weak that they could be placed in a position to break the rules (Kampf, Lamina, Olson and Richter). And for sure, I don’t have any more time and patience to deal with the country club set and that faction of the GOP that believes it is OK to corrupt the government so long as it suits their needs.

I believe that if I went to court, I would prevail. However, that victory would not result in a thorough review of the sidewalks, trails and paths. That is what the subcommittee is supposed to do.

If it turns out to be a ruse, there will a stiff price to pay for that.

Political committee seats folks..that is where the path to taking our government and community back begins. That is what I’ll be concentrating on now.

Main Line Suburban Life Weighs in on Board of Supervisors Meeting and St. Davids Golf Club Motion

Today’s Main Line Suburban Life newspaper offered the following article by Blair Meadowcroft concerning the recent Board of Supervisors Meeting and the St. Davids Golf Club Motion.  I decided to post this article because it quotes John Petersen as saying that he intends to move forward with the lawsuit against the township.  As of today, John has changed his mind and will not file the lawsuit.  Rather than people reading this article and misunderstanding, I thought it best to clarify the situation.  John has left on a business trip otherwise I would let him explain . . . perhaps he will offer an explanation for his decision once he gets to Austin. 

    Tredyffrin board votes to look at St. Davids Golf Club controversy

By Blair Meadowcroft

The St. Davids Golf Club issue, which has been a heated debate for weeks in Tredyffrin Township, has taken yet another turn.

First the Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 to approve a motion to release $25,000 from an escrow account to the golf club on Jan. 25. Then on Feb. 8 three of the four supervisors who approved the motion publicly apologized, saying their actions were not perfect. Two weeks later, after getting requests from numerous residents to reverse the vote, Chairman Bob Lamina offered a new motion that he hoped would serve as a “solution.”

Specifically the motion stated that the vote made on Jan. 25 “be reversed and rescinded.” While this on its own made residents happy, more conditions were added to the motion that quickly changed their opinion. According to the motion, the BOS, Planning Commission and Sidewalks, Trails and Paths Committee (STAP) will form a subcommittee to “begin a process to re-examine where the community wants and needs sidewalks.” Under this motion the committee will look at the “conditions upon which the Planning Commission may from time to time grant relief from our land-development ordinance” among other specific assessments including prioritization and funding sources.

According to Lamina the subcommittee will be initiated in March and the process of re-evaluating should be done by the end of the year.

“I hope this motion can get us back to where we should have been all along,” said Lamina. “We need to get back into a dialogue process for paths and sidewalks in the township. My hope is that we can move forward together and not look backward.”

According to Township Manager Mimi Gleason, the idea of discussing and defining the greenworks network, which is a part of the Comprehensive Plan, had been considered, and such an assessment, if done, would hopefully gain resident input on what is wanted or needed in the township.

However, in response to Lamina’s motion, residents questioned why there wasn’t a simple reversal without added conditions. Many suggested the board divide the motion into two separate parts, and requested to see it in writing and be given time to consider it before taking a vote. The underlying feeling from those who spoke at the meeting was that the residents no longer trust the board and therefore question its actions.

“I wrote the motion with the idea that this was a comprehensive response to the discussions and comments that have been made, and that it would put us to where we were before,” said Lamina. “There is no deal, no reasoning behind the second part of the motion. This is just trying to move forward.”

According to Lamina, St. Davids officials confirmed their continued obligation to put in sidewalks, and that everyone he had spoken to regarding the proposed motion was on board.

As one of the supervisors who originally voted against the motion Jan. 25, John DiBuonaventuro stated that he supported the new motion on the table because “if anything less than a genuine evaluation comes out of this, I will speak up against it and so will you, and for now we have to get past this.”

After hearing varied comments from residents, most of whom were against the motion, as well as comments from board members in favor of it, Lamina held a vote. The board unanimously passed the motion.

As a result of the conditions placed on the motion, Tredyffrin resident and one-time supervisor John Petersen has decided to sue the township. Before the meeting Monday night, Petersen had written up a complaint against the township and specifically the four supervisors who originally voted in favor of the motion. His intention was to wait to see how the meeting played out and then decide whether or not to serve the township the papers.

“They did not do what I requested, which was to formally reverse, in pure form, what happened on Jan. 25,” said Petersen. “I asked for declaratory judgment stating that what happened was wrong, but Monday night there was no admission or recognition that what happened was against the Home Rule Charter, Paul Olson never apologized and the board didn’t simply reverse the vote; they added new conditions.”

According to Petersen, his plan is to review the lawsuit and make a few changes, and will go forward with this within the week.

“I am going to remove the individual names from the lawsuit because the focus of this now is about the township and the board as a collective whole and wanting them to do the right thing,” said Petersen. “With the unanimous action from the board, there is no reason to distinguish the members.”

He went on to say that no such lawsuit should have to be filed, and that his filing will be subject to the board “doing the right thing.”

“All I am asking is that the court declares what happened as illegal, and that the vote made last night was null and void,” said Petersen. “I want everything to go back to exactly the way it was before Jan. 25.”

St. Davids Golf Club Decision Reversed but, . . . Was There Full Disclosure, Transparency, Deal-Making?

I went to last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting convinced that the residents of this community had been heard by our elected officials. I was certain that the supervisors were listening to us when we spoke out at previous Board meetings, wrote passionate letters to the editor, emails to the supervisors and left thoughtful comments on this blog. Last night I entered Keene Hall confident that the energy from so many would pay off, that justice would prevail, and good government would be restored in Tredyffrin Township.

I had heard scuttlebutt about some ‘deal-making’ before the supervisors meeting began but I was not prepared for what was to come. Chairman Lamina read his very lengthy prepared St. Davids Golf Club motion. The motion started out well, stating that its passage would reverse the supervisors’ decision of January 25 and restore the St. Davids Golf Club escrow. That should have been the end of the motion. Was that not the intended purpose of the motion . . . was that not what the public had asked . . . to restore the escrow? But no, Lamina took a breath and launched in to the other part of the motion; this motion would additionally include the formation of a subcommittee to look at sidewalks and trails township-wide; this ‘sidewalk’ subcommittee would include members from the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and STAP (Sidewalks, Trails and Paths); and there would be focus groups formed to discuss the location of sidewalks in the township, starting with the St. Davids area.

After Lamina completed his long-winded ‘motion’ and it was offered for discussion to audience members, I think we all struggled to ‘take in’ what we had heard. What kind of motion was this? . . . Was this just another way to protect St. Davids Golf Club from honoring their land development contract? . . . What about the rights of the Planning Commission who had consistently voted to enforce St. Davids land development commitment? . . .  What would this motion do for the precedent for developer/contractors not to comply with their contractual commitments? . . . Would this ‘sidewalk’ committee be part of the existing approved Comprehensive Plan?  Many, many questions, no answers offered.

Audience members spoke up, thanking the supervisors for reversing the escrow vote but many asked for Lamina’s motion to be split in to two motions. They suggested the first motion should be for the return of the St. Davids Golf Club escrow, followed by a second motion to create the ‘sidewalks’ subcommittee. The supervisors were not listening; their decision preordained. When several people asked Lamina ‘why’ not separate the motion in to two motions? His response was consistently no; that he wrote it that way. Period. Interesting to note that Kampf offered his commentary on government and making compromise. Perhaps what Kampf should have explained was that the compromise was a behind the closed-door agreement with the other supervisors, there certainly was no compromise with the citizenry. In advance of the vote, both supervisors Kichline and DiBuonaventuro offered that they would be supporting this motion. I guess that was supposed to make the residents ‘feel better’ since these two supervisors, along with Supervisor Donohue cast the 3 votes against the original motion on January 25.

A constant thread among the supervisors comments last night on St. Davids Golf Club was their desire to ‘move on’. The supervisors wanted this motion delivered, a vote taken and the ability to put St. Davids Golf Club behind them.  And a vote the supervisors took; it was unanimous, 7-0 to support Lamina’s motion.

Why did I leave the meeting with the feeling that we (the public) had been manipulated and that our government had let us down? I should have felt that justice was served and our government policy and procedure restored . . . after all, the motion did include the reversal of the St. Davids decision. But no, I went home, drank 3 glasses of Pinot Grigio and reviewed what had just happened. The St. Davids discussion and motion was completely orchestrated . . . an obvious deal made in advance. Where was the transparency of the supervisor’s actions? For me transparency in government means that the citizens must be able to “see through” its workings, and to fully understand what goes on when public officials transact public business.

Transparency is the new buzz word in American politics. You hear politicians say it all the time when referring to ways of providing constituents with access to more information and mobilizing people to get more involved in government processes. Transparency is a way of protecting fairness and ensuring common good. When we know what our government is up to, we have a better chance of ensuring that decisions treat everyone equally and protect the common conditions that are important to everyone’s welfare. It was obvious that the supervisors had already debated and settled the issue of a subcommittee, prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting, outside the view of constituents. Am I the only one who is concerned over possible violations of the state’s Sunshine Act? The open meeting law bars four or more of the Board’s seven supervisors from deliberating township business or taking official action behind closed doors, with few exceptions. Why do we have to fight to keep the door open? Is it that the supervisors want the appearance of unanimity, to aim for as little contention as possible in public? When you go behind a closed-door and make decisions, the perception can be as bad as the fact.

As far as they are concerned, the Board of Supervisors may feel that with their vote last night, that St. Davids Golf Club is now past history. But for me, the issue is far from over; no they just created a whole host of new problems with their latest decision.

I can hardly wait to see this new ‘sidewalks’ subcommittee . . . knowing what the desired outcome for St. Davids Golf Club must be, the supervisors will want to make sure that Paul Olson is their representative on the committee. From the STAP committee the supervisors need to make sure that Bruce Parkinson is included on the sidewalks subcommittee; as a member of St. Davids Golf Club he would be an invaluable choice. From the Planning Commission, I am not sure who would be the politically correct choice; are any of planning commissioners also members of St. Davids? If so, make sure and let the supervisors know as that is an important selection criteria. When the Board of Supervisors is forming the public focus group for St. Davids area, they need to make sure that no one from the Mt. Pleasant community is included. As we know, Christine Johnson and her non-country club Mt. Pleasant neighbors live where that proposed St. Davids sidewalk to nowhere would have ended.

Was last night about full disclosure, transparency, deal-making? . . . you be the judge.

Just In . . . No Endorsement from the Chester County Republican Committee for the State House 157 Race . . . There Will be a Primary!

This just in . . . Chester County Republican Committee has completed their voting for the Pennsylvania State House 157.  The committee voted not to endorse either Warren Kampf or Ken Buckwalter.  To receive an endorsement requires 60% of the votes; the voting went as follows:

  • Round 1: Kampf 32 votes; Buckwalter 26 votes
  • Round 2: Kampf 31 votes; Buckwalter 27 votes
  • Round 3: Kampf 29 votes; Buckwalter 27 votes *

* It is my understanding that 2 Tredyffrin committee people left before Round 3 vote.

As a result of the voting, the Republican Committee has made the decision to recommend both candidates (neither candidate receives an endorsement).  So there will be a Primary race between Kampf and Buckwalter; both candidates will appear on the ballot.  Paul Drucker’s Republican opponent for the State House race will be decided by the people on Primary Day, May 18, 2010. 

Interesting that we will have a Republican Primary between a Paoli candidate and a Phoenixville candidate . . . wonder when the last time that happened?  Has there ever been a non-Tredyffrin Township State House Representative?  Exciting local political news!